Henri Landwirth dies at age 91


April 27, 2018

Henri Landwirth

Founder of Give Kids the World and a loyal philanthropist to the Jewish community, Henri Landwirth died on Monday, April 16, 2018. He was 91 years old.

Landwirth and his twin sister, Margot Glazer, were born March 7, 1927, in Antwerp, Belgium. His father and mother were killed by the Nazis. He and Margot were imprisoned in Auschwitz and Mauthausen Nazi death camps between the ages of 13 to 18. Both miraculously survived and were reunited after the war.

Landwirth worked his way to America on a freight ship, arriving with $20 to his name. After serving in the Army, he used his GI benefits to learn hotel management. In 1954, he became manager of the Starlight Motel in Cocoa Beach. It was here that Landwirth met many of the first American astronauts and news reporter and anchor Walter Cronkite.

He had a successful career in the hotel industry that spanned 50 years, and owned several hotels in Orlando, including the Holiday Inn Maingate East where in 1989 he developed the plans for the Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Fla., which has now given more than 160,000 children with life-threatening illnesses and their families all-expenses paid vacation experiences. Give Kids the World Village is now a 79-acre resort with 144 villas.

"Henri was a remarkable man who worked tirelessly to help our precious children and their families. He has left behind an enduring legacy of compassion and love," Pamela Landwirth, president and CEO of Give Kids The World and Henri's former wife, told the Orlando Sentinel.

In appreciation of volunteer work for GKTW, Landwirth also refurbished the Roth Family JCC's Senior Lounge.

In 2000, Landwirth founded Dignity U Wear, an organization that provides homeless, abused or abandoned children with new clothes. He also started Hate Hurts, a program that teaches forgiveness and ending hatred.

Landwirth was named "Most Caring Individual in America" by the Caring Institute, Humanitarian of the Year by Parents Magazine, and in 1994, he was named Orlando Sentinel's "Floridian of the Year."

Paul Jeser, former executive director (1976-1984) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando called him "One of the great human beings of our day."

Landwirth is predeceased by his twin sister, Margot Glazer. He is survived by three children-Gary Landwirth, founder of A Gift for Teaching; Greg Landwirth and Lisa Landwirth Ullmann; and four grandchildren.

A private family graveside service was held at Temple Israel Cemetery with Rabbi Michael Matuson of Beth El/The Beaches Synagogue in Ponte Vedra Beach officiating.  

There will be a public celebration of the life of Henri Landwirth on Saturday, April 28, at 2 p.m. at Give Kids the World in Kissimmee. The family is requesting donations in memory of Henri to Give Kids the World, http://www.GiveKidstheWorld.org.  

Arrangements entrusted to Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel, Inc., 640 Lee Road, Orlando 32810. 407-599-1180.


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